Heart Check: Keeping your emotional heart healthy

Heart disease is a huge problem in America. According to the CDC, approximately 1 in 4 deaths are due to heart disease in the US. That is a lot of people dying from a relatively preventative disease. The majority of heart disease is caused by stress, poor nutrition and lack of physical activity. I also think people never have their heart health checked until they’re extremely ill and need to be put on medication or have extensive surgery. Now, I’m not a physical heart health specialist (I know a lot more about infectious diseases), but I do know a thing or two about the emotional heart. The Bible writes in Proverbs 4:23 (NLT): “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life”.

I quote Proverbs 4:23 all the time, and it’s a reminder for me to check my heart, and continuously making sure I’m guarding it from “disease” (aka negativity). The status of our hearts determines how we interact and treat people. For example, if we carry a lot of bitterness from our past, we can automatically look at the bad in people before we ever see the good. If we carry past hurts from abandonment in our hearts, we may assume everyone is going to leave us, so we either sabotage relationships or keep people at an arm’s length away. On the other side of the coin, a heart full of joy and love tends to poor out joy and love to others in most circumstances (joyous people do have bad days, but it never steals our inner joy). So as I’m preparing to leave for Mozambique, I’m going through an extensive heart check and cleaning out a lot of emotional cobwebs. I want to enter this new season of life a healthy, joyful, loving person.

I’m currently having some major heart surgery in the forgiveness department. I didn’t realize that I was holding unforgiveness over certain people in my past. Biblical forgiveness is technically canceling out someone’s emotional debt to me. In better terms, this means when someone hurts me, I’m holding on to this “hurt debt” that you owe me, and I’m not letting go of this debt until you pay for it (usually through an apology, or me returning the hurt). I realized that there were people in my life I thought I had fully forgiven, but it turned out I only forgave 20% of the hurt that they caused me instead of 100%. You can usually tell if you fully forgive someone by the way you emotionally react to when you see them (on Facebook or in person), when they come up in conversation, or even when you think about them. Does the mere mention of their name make you automatically think of the offense that they caused? Or do you think about them with a clear conscious? When I realized this, it blew my mind. I know I’m not giving the topic enough credit, so to know more I highly advise listening to my friend Brandon’s message on forgiveness (it’s long but good). I could write a whole post on forgiveness, but Brandon says it a lot better!

With this being said, how’s your heart doing? Do you have parts of anger, bitterness, sadness, disappointments, or forgiveness that you need to work on? Leave a comment below. The best part about dealing with it now, is the freedom that comes from a healthy heart. Now that I’m forgiving people 100%, I have more space to love people (this is all I want to do… I know, it sounds a little hippyish, but it’s me).

With love,

Tifa

Unconditional Love

I hope you all loved the post from last week from a good friend of mine. I personally want to thank my friend for being so open about her life and her struggles with walking through losing her dad and having an eating disorder. If you haven’t read it, you can find it here.

For those of you who don’t know me very well, I have a dog and her name is Bella. She is a tiny and tenacious 5lbs mutt who loves me to the moon and back. I moved to California for grad school and I was feeling pretty lonely because I was away from my family, friends and community (I’m East Coast all day err’ day). I adopted Bella from a kill shelter in San Bernadino, CA and it was love at first site, and I love this crazy ball of fluff unconditionally (and in my mind, you should too). Being a dog owner, I’ve noticed that dogs truly love their owners unconditionally, despite everything we do to them (I love annoying her and waking her up when she sleeps… SHE’S SOOO CUTE). And this had me thinking, if I can love my four legged friend unconditionally, why is it so hard to love people?

This is a question I ask myself pretty often and am still working through. I think as humans we are more apt to holding a grudge and making people pay for the hurt they cause, than just forgiving and moving on. Let me say, forgiveness doesn’t mean I’ll let you back in the inner quarters of my heart, it just means I’m letting go of the offense you have caused (this is a daily practice). I also think the majority of times that people who hurt do not do it out of a place of malice, it’s usually a miscommunication of some sorts.

I also think another reason it is hard to love people is because we confuse disagreement with unloving or hate. I’m a person who loves loving people. I usually (key word is usually) see the best in people and try and make a connection there. I don’t agree with everyone’s lifestyles or viewpoints, but that doesn’t mean I love you any less; it means I have to love you even harder. I’m not saying this is easy, but it’s a work in progress.

Story time! I was a party girl in college; I went out, I lived it up, I pumped my fists, and went to Mexico for one spring break (how I still have a liver, and that I haven’t been arrested, no one knows but Jesus… Thank you Jesus!!!!). Sometimes I sit and wonder how I’m still alive, but that’s a story for another time. I have friends who still party like they’re still in college. Personally, this isn’t my scene anymore, I like to be in my bed by 10pm and I want to live on a farm raising goats and make my own cheese. In other words, I am super simple (not to be confused with basic… I’m not basic). I personally don’t agree with the party lifestyle at this age (I’m in my 30’s), but I don’t love this group of friends any less. I just pick and choose what activities I do and do not partake in (that’s all). If you want to go out and party, knock yourself out, I probably won’t join; but if you want to go out, eat and have a glass of wine, I’m all about it. So this is a simple example of “I don’t agree with your lifestyle choices, but I still love you”.

The question here is: are there people in your life that you need to give a little more grace to? I know there are people in my life who don’t necessarily agree with my lifestyle choices, but they still love me (yes mother, I’m thinking about getting another tattoo… LOVE YOU)!

Let me know how you work through this, I can always take other tips and tricks. And if you want to talk more or want advise, please do not hesitate to contact me (admin@teawithtifa.com).

With love,

Tifa